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Christians And The Tithe - Part 2

There is considerable misunderstanding today about what God really demanded from His people in the Old Testament and because of this the interpretation of scripture is flawed. 

Most people believe it was about 10%, which is a terrible misunderstanding. Actually, there were several obligatory free-will obligations in Israel, totaling much more. We will discover later that there were at least three different tithes.

Please read PART 1 here.


Leviticus 27:30-33

Leviticus 27:30-33 -- "Any tithe of the land, from the grain of the land or from the fruit of the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD. If a man redeems part of his tithe, however, he must add one fifth to it. All the tithe of herd or flock, everything which passes under the rod, the tenth one will be holy to the LORD. The owner must not examine the animals to distinguish between good and bad, and he must not exchange them. If, however, he does exchange it, both the original animal and its substitute will be holy. It must not be redeemed."

Looking at the context, God was teaching Moses rules that would take effect when they arrived in the Promised Land.

Leviticus 25:2 -- “Speak to the Israelites and tell them, ‘When you enter the land that I am giving you, the land must observe a Sabbath to the LORD.

In reality, the tithe mentioned above was referred to as "the tithe of the land." These instructions were delivered to Moses when he was on Mount Sinai.

Leviticus 27:34 -- These are the commandments which the LORD commanded Moses to tell the Israelites at Mount Sinai.

This seems to be the broadest command on tithing in the Mosaic Law, perhaps even an introduction. Even yet, there are many elements in this text that suggest two kinds of tithes. The earliest kind of tithe came from the land, either as seeds or as tree fruit. It was sacred to the Lord. If a person wished to redeem it, presumably for money, he had to pay an additional 20% to his tithe. 

Tithes from herds or flocks of animals were the second kind of tithe. Even if it was of poor quality, the tenth animal that occurred to pass beneath the rod would be holy to the Lord.

Monetary tithes were clearly discouraged. In reality, a monetary tithe of twelve percent was required. Those who claim to tithe today but do so in money fall two percent short of the tithing requirement. Those who have a garden but do not tithe on their products are likewise in violation of the law. 

Those who claim the tithe must be the finest ten percent seem to be thinking about the “first fruits offering,” but they are not the same thing. As we shall see, these are not the only instances where they fall short of the tithe requirements.

The tithe rules provided by Moses were for a particular country, circumstance, and purpose. The recipients of these tithes will be revealed in the next four chapters. I'll provide a summary at the conclusion.


Numbers 18:21-24 -- And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation. Neither must the children of Israel from now on come near the tabernacle of the congregation, lest they bear sin, and die. But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance. But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering to the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said to them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.

Numbers 18:25-32 -- And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, Thus speak to the Levites, and say to them, When you take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe. And this your heave offering shall be reckoned to you, as though it were the corn of the threshing floor, and as the fullness of the wine press. Thus you also shall offer an heave offering to the LORD of all your tithes, which you receive of the children of Israel; and you shall give thereof the LORD's heave offering to Aaron the priest. Out of all your gifts you shall offer every heave offering of the LORD, of all the best thereof, even the hallowed part thereof out of it. Therefore you shall say to them, When you have heaved the best thereof from it, then it shall be counted to the Levites as the increase of the threshing floor, and as the increase of the wine press. And you shall eat it in every place, you and your households: for it is your reward for your service in the tabernacle of the congregation. And you shall bear no sin by reason of it, when you have heaved from it the best of it: neither shall you pollute the holy things of the children of Israel, lest you die.

The Israelites' tithes became the Levites' inheritance. The Levites were responsible for ministering in the tabernacle and could not possess the land, thus their income was restricted. God intended for their help to come from those to whom they served. 

The Israelites were to give up their tithes as a heave offering before delivering them to the Levites. The tithes were offered with an up and down motion in front of the altar.

Exodus 29:27 -- You are to sanctify the breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the contribution, which were waved and lifted up as a contribution from the ram of consecration, from what belongs to Aaron and to his sons.

Leviticus 7:34 -- for the breast of the wave offering and the thigh of the contribution offering I have taken from the Israelites out of their peace offering sacrifices and have given them to Aaron the priest and to his sons from the people of Israel as a perpetual allotted portion.’”

Numbers 15:20-21 -- You must offer up a cake of the first of your finely ground flour as a raised offering; as you offer the raised offering of the threshing floor, so you must offer it up. You must give to the LORD some of the first of your finely ground flour as a raised offering in your future generations.

Although all of the priests were Levites, not all of the Levites were priests. That is why the Levites paid a tenth of their earnings to the priests. They tithed grain and wine rather than money. The Levites gave Aaron a tenth of the people's tenth. 

Unlike the tithe of the cattle in Leviticus twenty-seven, they were required to offer the finest 10%. As a return for their duty, they were allowed to eat the remaining 90% with their families. We do not find any evidence of the priests' tithing. 

Strong's Concordance states,

"While all priests had to be Levites who inherited their position from their ancestors, not all Levites could serve as priests. For starters, there were far too many of them. Also, some were required to labour in the tabernacle, and subsequently the temple, as maintenance and cleaning workers, which is reasonable given the complexity of the sacrifice system. The Levites really resided in different regions of Israel, and they were responsible for the wellbeing of the Israelites with whom they lived... The Levites were then to tithe the tithes they received, giving the Lord their own tithe from what they received from the people. A portion of the tithe was to be a terumah, or "heave offering," to the priests, the descendants of Aaron."

The Levites were assigned towns from each tribe of Israel to dwell in. They were granted a total of Forty-eight cities in which they could live with their animals.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts.

If you are blessed by these studies, please write me using the contact page or leave a comment below.



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